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Parks and Playgrounds


ParksPlaces

Venture out to your local park, playground and green space in Nashua, NH with June Lemen, as she features a new Nashua ward each week in our summer series Park Places.

You can use the menu below to view a map of where Nashua parks and playgrounds are located or to learn about the amenities available at each park.

Each time June visits a ward, the map and amenities listings will be updated.



Park & Playground Map | Park & Playground Amenities



Nashua Parks & Playgrounds News

Up by the river

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 12th and final article in June Lemen’s Park Places series. This week, June discusses Nashua’s Riverwalk. In the mornings, before … Full story    
Published:  September 13, 2011

Schooled on Ward 9

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 11th in a summer series by June Lemen. In this series, she explores the green spaces and parks of Nashua … Full story    
Published:  September 6, 2011

Roby Park is the only one in Nashua’s Ward 8

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the 10th in a summer series by June Lemen. In this series, she’ll explore the green spaces and parks of Nashua … Full story    
Published:  August 30, 2011

Nashua’s Ward 7 hosts numerous parks and playgrounds

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the ninth in a summer series by June Lemen. In this series, she’ll explore the green spaces and parks of Nashua … Full story    
Published:  August 23, 2011

Ward 6 boasts pond, brook within neighborhoods

NOTE: This is the eighth in a summer series by June Lemen. In this series, she’ll explore the green spaces and parks of Nashua by … Full story    
Published:  August 16, 2011

Nashua’s Ward 5 is a sports hotbed

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the seventh in a summer series by June Lemen. In this series, she’ll explore the green spaces and parks of Nashua … Full story    
Published:  August 9, 2011

Ward 4 offerings include JFK memorial, skatepark, rail trail

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the sixth in a summer series by June Lemen. In this series, she will explore the green spaces and parks of … Full story    
Published:  August 2, 2011

Exploration of Ward 3 includes several smaller parks

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fifth in a summer series by June Lemen. In this series, she will explore the green spaces and parks of … Full story    
Published:  July 26, 2011

North End assets

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the fourth in a summer series by June Lemen. In this series, she will explore the green spaces and parks of … Full story    
Published:  July 19, 2011

Sun or shade?

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third in a summer series by June Lemen. In this series, she will explore the green spaces and parks of … Full story    
Published:  July 12, 2011

Ward 1 offers 2 parks and a tough-to-find sanctuary

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a summer series by June Lemen. In this series, she will explore the green spaces and parks of … Full story    
Published:  July 5, 2011

Nashua’s recreation areas, big or small, have a lot to offer

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a summer series by June Lemen. In this series, she will explore the green spaces and parks of … Full story    
Published:  June 28, 2011




Park and Playground Map


View Nashua Parks in a larger map

Nashua Park & Playground Amenities

City Parks | Ward 1 | Ward 2 | Ward 3 | Ward 4 | Ward 5 | Ward 6 | Ward 7 | Ward 8 | Ward 9



City of Nashua Parks

Greeley Park | Mine Falls | Skateboard Park | Riverwalk



Greeley Park

Greeley is a gorgeous park: We always admired the trees (particularly the spectacular copper beech) and the fountain and the flowerbeds. If Nashua has a jewel in its crown of green space, it may well be the 125 acres of Greeley Park, which has, in addition to its gardens, lawns and trees, a wading pool, a play area for kids, tennis courts, a band shell, barbecue grills, an area to play horseshoes and restrooms within a rustic stone building.

Established in 1896 by a gift from Joseph Thornton Greeley, the grandson of the original Joseph Greeley, who was an early mover and shaker in the Nashua Manufacturing Co., it was transformed from a farm into a park with a donation of $5,000, which was matched by the city.

It is a wonderful asset to the North End, and I love seeing it - full or empty. Lucy has splashed in Greeley's wading pool, spent hours on the swings and climbing structures, and she and her friend spent a memorable afternoon seated on the World War I howitzer planning their invasion of the community gardens. I think we're lucky to have such a space as one of our city parks.

What I love about Greeley Park is that it is a perfect example of a green space that combines beauty with utility in every season. To walk Greeley Park in autumn, when the foliage is at its peak and the air smells of leaves and pine, is a true opportunity to taste New England. The community gardens have been harvested, although you may see an occasional pumpkin waiting to grow just a little bigger.

Once the snow begins, you can take your children there to see animal tracks and snowshoers (or snowshoe yourself). The gardens begin their annual show in the spring, a relief after winter. In summer, families have cookouts and parties. In summer, it's easy to see that Greeley is exactly what a park is supposed to be: a public space for the enjoyment of its residents.

* Wading Pool
* Tennis Courts - Lights
* Softball Fields
* Soccer Fields
* Trails
* Sledding
* Playground
* Horse Shoes
* City Park
* Picnic Area
* Historical Site
* Fireman's Memorial
* Restrooms
* Community Garden
* Bandstand


Mine Falls

Mine Falls is used for all kinds of recreation: boating, walking, running, bicycling, fishing - you name it - as well as the New Hampshire cross country championships. I took Buffer, our collie, there once for a long walk in the snow and came across both cross-country skiers and snow-shoers. We who live in Nashua now can only be grateful for the forethought of the Nashua New Hampshire Foundation members who bought the land from Textron in the 1940s.

Mine Falls is a fabulous place. If you've never been there, try to go. I am particularly fond of this park in autumn, when the leaves are falling off the trees and drifting into the river and you feel you are walking in a swirl of color.
More...

* Softball Field - Lights
* Boat Launch
* Trails
* Soccer Fields - Lights
* Conservation Area
* City Park
* Historical Site


David Deane Skateboard Park

The skateboard park is a big, asphalt and concrete home-away-from-home for skateboarders of all ages

* Skateboard Park
* Lights

Riverwalk

The Riverwalk has been in the Master Plan for Nashua since 1983. I don't know who the clever people were who came up with the idea for the Riverwalk, but it was a great one. If you look at the Master Plan for the Riverwalk, you'll see that it connects scenic areas of the river with downtown locations. It's a 1.6-mile green belt encircling the waist of our downtown. And, it's also a work in progress; it is not complete, yet, and what I appreciated most about the walk was that while Hersh guided me on the trail, she carefully pointed out what needs to happen to complete the Riverwalk. Read More...

The City of Nashua provides a .pdf of the Riverwalk trail. View the Riverwalk Trail Map



* Green Spaces
* Trails



Parks in Ward 1

Wildlife Sanctuary | Lincoln Park | Navaho Park



Howe Wildlife Sanctuary


Howe's Wildlife Sanctuary is on Broad Street, at 409, between numbers 407 and 411. I took my life in my hands, parked my car on the shoulder, and dashed across Broad Street to take a picture of this space. It may indeed be a wildlife preserve. However, I could find no access to it other than by clambering over the guardrail and bushwhacking through the undergrowth.


Lincoln Park

Lincoln Park is a fine, big park, with four entrances that I could easily find. The first is on Coliseum Avenue; a second at the intersection of Marie Avenue and Greenlay Street; another entrance on Marie Avenue; and a fourth at the end of Seminole and Cheyenne drives. I went in at each entrance.

Jackson Field is the big, lighted baseball park that can be seen from the Coliseum Avenue entrance to Lincoln Park. At the Greenlay Street entrance, there is a play area with a climbing structure for young kids and two baseball fields: Dominico Field, named in remembrance of Jeanne Dominico, tragically murdered in 2005, and Zapenas Field, named in honor of Michael Zapenas, longtime president of Nashua Northwest Baseball.

The entrance at Marie Street has a small parking area and a path down to the fields, which had soccer goals set up on the day that I visited, along with a couple enjoying the day and each other while lying on a blanket in the sun. They told me that they had just discovered Lincoln Park

* Soccer
* Lights
* Football Fields
* Cal Ripkin Fields


Navaho Park

Navaho Park is a big park, practically next door to Lincoln. It's not a manicured space. Navaho Park is used as a practice field for the Nashua Northwest Rookie League A and AA teams. Navaho Park actually fronts on Broad Street, across from the power station, but the access to the park is by means of a dirt path off Beaver Street - between Nos. 17 and 19.
It can also be reached by a path from Denise Street. If you try to get to it from Navaho Street, as I did, you will end up covered in poison ivy and brushing off ticks. Which happened to me.

* Cal Ripkin Field
* Skating
* Playground



Parks in Ward 2

Rowland Field | Thornton Road Tot Lot


Mark Rowland Field

It's not a fancy park, but it's a big space, and it's a great place if you want to be alone, or take a walk without having to think too much about where you are going. I know that sounds strange, but there are times when I want to put my ear buds in and listen to music and walk.

Rowland Park is good for that. The terrain is not manicured, but I don't like to walk on city sidewalks with my ear buds in. If I want to listen to music and walk at the same time, and get some Vitamin D, the park on Jewel Lane is a good choice.

* Green Space
* Baseball field


Thornton Road Tot Lot

I am a fan of the Thornton Road Tot Lot. It's a small park on the right-hand side of the road shortly before you get to Nashua Community College.

It's a perfect park for little ones 6 and younger. There is a small parking lot, a swing set with four swings low enough for a kindergartener to climb onto them, and two climbing structures.

I took Lucy there a few times when she was a toddler, and we were out doing errands at that end of town and needed to stretch our legs. She liked the play area, as did I. There's another feature of the Thornton Road space that I liked as well: shade.

The Thornton Road Tot Lot is a shady park. There are big evergreens surrounding it, and it's a lovely, cool place to take small children to romp in. And if you're someone like me, who is waiting for SPF 150 sunblock to come out, it's a great place to play with your children.

* Playground



Parks in Ward 3

Anniversary Park | Atherton Park | Centennial Pool | French Renaissance Park | Four Corners

Greeley Park | Greeley Boat Ramp Holman Stadium | North Common | Rancourt Park

Salem Street | Deschenes Oval | The Monument | Fireman's Bell | Foster Square



Anniversary Park

Anniversary Park is a great use of a space that could have become more asphalt. You get there by means of a little opening between the football field and the baseball field on North Common. You can meander by the pathway around the marsh, stopping for a picnic at one of the iron picnic tables dotting the path. It's a great place to take a walk out of the heat, show a child the miracle of a bulrush or wheel a stroller.

*Picnic Area


Atherton Park

Atherton Park is a big space and seems to be green almost year round. There are some big, old oaks edging it that seem to watch over the park. Last time I visited, I had the lovely experience of seeing a young father playing catch with his son complete with big league commentary when he decided it was time for the child to run."And it's a base hit…"

There are two baseball diamonds at Atherton and one set of swings. A nice space. But I think it needs more amenities. I wonder how many children I would see at Atherton Park regularly if there was a play area for smaller kids incorporated into this space. How about a roundabout? A climbing structure? Something in addition to just swings? I know that there are a lot of children in this area of the city, and I hate to see an outdoor play space unused.

* Picnic Area
* Playground
* Softball Field
* Baseball Field
* Basketball Court

Centennial Pool

Centennial Pool is located within North Common, next to Holman Stadium, along Sargent Avenue.

* Pool
* Swimming Lessons

Foster Square

I'd like to see more beauty in some of the smaller spaces in the city, which brings me to a space I visited because I assumed it was a city green space, but now I am mystified. I'm talking about Foster Square.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell the truth: I was looking for the Deschenes Oval. I decided that rather than use my map, I'd check out little spaces I knew of in Ward 3 and figure out where they were mapped on Parks and Recreation list. Foster Square is a small - but not as small as Salem Street Park - green space at the Y intersection of Lock and Whitney streets, directly across from Granite Street. There's a statue of with "Foster" on its base, and a figure - a man dressed in a Civil War uniform - on a plinth in the square.

I read the inscription on the statue:

"Major General John G. Foster / Born 1823 graduate West Point 1846 / Served with distinction as Capt. / In Mexican War at Contreras / Churubusco & Molino del Rey / Attended rank of Maj. Gen. / In Civil War for distinguished / Service in the capture of / Savannah, GA. / And for gallant and meritorious / Service in the field / During the war / Died at Nashua, Sept. 2, 1874."

Clearly, this was not Deschenes Oval, but it confused me as to what it actually was, partially because the benches on the perimeter of the square face away from the park. I could not imagine that a city park would have benches looking away from its central monument.

If Foster Square is a park, it's not well-maintained, unlike the rest of the spaces I've visited. If the city doesn't maintain this space, who is responsible for it? I viewed it using the city's GIS software, but even there, no owner is listed, unlike every other parcel in the area.

I was intrigued, so I read a bit about Maj. Gen. Foster. A Nashuan since 10, he rose through the Army as a member of the Corps of Engineers and helped build Fort Sumter. He served with distinction and bravery in the Civil War and was, according to Wikipedia, an expert in underwater demolition who wrote a definitive text on the subject. A fort in Kittery, Maine, is named after him. The day of his funeral, all businesses in the city were closed as a sign of respect. He was a true Nashua hero.

The mystery about Foster Square deepened, because when I researched the statue, all I could find were references to the statue being moved to its present location in 1978, and the time capsule buried in 1903 with the original statue was opened and then resealed and placed at its new location. There was no mention of where the old statue was located. I'd love to know.

* Green Space
* Statue

Four Corners

Four Corners is the first park I revisited. It's on the corner of Manchester Street and Sargent Avenue. The first time I went to Four Corners was right after we moved, in the middle of the winter, where I met a woman walking her dog. She invited me to join her dog-walking group, and then looked pointedly at my bag-less hand and explained to me that this was a city where you were required to clean up after your dog.

I felt so guilty that I retraced my entire walk, with a large plastic bag, cleaning up after all the dogs that had walked the same path. Then, I watched the skaters on the rink that the city creates by flooding Four Corners when the temperature drops. It was a wonderful introduction to our new neighborhood. There's nothing quite like the sound of skates on ice combined with the laughter of skaters.

* Green Space
* Skating Rink


French Renaissance Park/Parc de Notre Renaissance Francaise

French Renaissance Park, or Parc de Notre Renaissance Francaise, on Water Street.

I love this little park. Tucked in behind Darrell's Music Hall and across from the city parking lot off Mechanic Street, it celebrates the hard work and contribution of Franco-Americans to our city. The statue of a woman and her child, carved by Christopher Gowell, simply resonates with fierce maternal love. This park has granite benches on which to sit and enjoy the river and plantings. I admired the echinacea and rudbeckia and watched men across the Nashua River fishing. Lucy and I would occasionally walk down to this park after visiting the farmers market to admire the view. We also were looking for what we called "the River God," a floating face that appears in the river. The god is a 7- by 5-foot orb of sculpted plastic foam created by Nashua sculptor Andrew Kenah. In August of 2007, the River God went missing, according to a column by Telegraph reporter Dean Shalhoup. Although, I've seen it as recently as last year.

* Statue

* Green Space

Holman Stadium

Holman Stadium has had two facelifts since I've lived in its neighborhood, and I am grateful that then-Mayor Davidson never managed to pass his plan to tear up North Common and replace it with additional stadium parking. The improvements that have been made to the stadium and its environs have been positive.

* Baseball - Lights
* Stadium
* Picnic Area
* Restrooms

Greeley Park

Greeley is a gorgeous park: We always admired the trees (particularly the spectacular copper beech) and the fountain and the flowerbeds. If Nashua has a jewel in its crown of green space, it may well be the 125 acres of Greeley Park, which has, in addition to its gardens, lawns and trees, a wading pool, a play area for kids, tennis courts, a band shell, barbecue grills, an area to play horseshoes and restrooms within a rustic stone building.

Established in 1896 by a gift from Joseph Thornton Greeley, the grandson of the original Joseph Greeley, who was an early mover and shaker in the Nashua Manufacturing Co., it was transformed from a farm into a park with a donation of $5,000, which was matched by the city.

It is a wonderful asset to the North End, and I love seeing it - full or empty. Lucy has splashed in Greeley's wading pool, spent hours on the swings and climbing structures, and she and her friend spent a memorable afternoon seated on the World War I howitzer planning their invasion of the community gardens. I think we're lucky to have such a space as one of our city parks.

What I love about Greeley Park is that it is a perfect example of a green space that combines beauty with utility in every season. To walk Greeley Park in autumn, when the foliage is at its peak and the air smells of leaves and pine, is a true opportunity to taste New England. The community gardens have been harvested, although you may see an occasional pumpkin waiting to grow just a little bigger.

Once the snow begins, you can take your children there to see animal tracks and snowshoers (or snowshoe yourself). The gardens begin their annual show in the spring, a relief after winter. In summer, families have cookouts and parties. In summer, it's easy to see that Greeley is exactly what a park is supposed to be: a public space for the enjoyment of its residents.

* Wading Pool
* Tennis Courts - Lights
* Softball Fields
* Soccer Fields
* Trails
* Sledding
* Playground
* Horse Shoes
* City Park
* Picnic Area
* Historical Site
* Fireman's Memorial
* Restrooms
* Community Garden
* Bandstand

Greeley Park Boat Ramp

The Greeley Park Boat Ramp is in an undeveloped part of Greeley Park, at the end of Hills Ferry Road

*Boat Ramp
*Green Space

 

North Common

The play equipment is the same as it was back then - three different groups of swings, two of them specifically for babies and toddlers - a small climbing structure for older children and a larger set of swings. A slide seems to have been taken away and a nice, metal swinging bench added, which I applaud. I spent hours at this park as a young mother (well, let's be honest - I was never a young mother, having started at age 42). Seating is a plus, particularly when you have been chasing a little girl who is working off the energy she accumulated while hogging the tube in the climbing structure. I'm mentioning no names.

* Tennis Courts - Lights
* Playground
* Centennial Pool
* Playground
* Picnic Area
* Baseball Field
* Softball Field
* Football Field - Lights

Rancourt Park

Rancourt Park is a park that I did not know, even though it's close to the place we go to celebrate the last day of school. We traditionally enjoy a cone at the Big One, and Rancourt Park is at the end of Rancourt Street, which is next to the ice cream stand. It's a small park, but there are nice amenities: a baseball field, a wooden-roofed open shelter, a set of swings, a climbing structure and a small metal teeter-totter. I think it's a great size for a neighborhood park and would make the perfect setting for a birthday party - bring a couple of tables to the covered area for the cake, and let the kids play outdoors.

* Softball Field
* Playground
* Picnic Area


Salem Street Park

There's a little grass-bordered path, complete with trees and benches, that runs from Tolles to Salem streets. On Salem Street itself, there's a park, although there is little grass. There are four benches and climbing structures and swings. The number of chalk drawings indicates this park is well used. I hope so. It's seems to be a good use of small space in a neighborhood with lots of kids.

* Picnic Area
* Playground
* Green Spaces


Deschenes Oval/Veterans' Park

Deschenes Oval, a space that I knew, but not as Deschenes Oval. I think of it as Veterans Park. It's at the corner of Main and Canal streets, across from Dunkin' Donuts at Railroad Square, and is the space with the commemorative Veterans Walkway and the monuments to all the war dead.

I find it an affecting space. To look at the Purple Heart memorial on one side and then the plaques on the other makes me feel oddly grateful and sad at the same time. And it made me think of Foster Square. John Foster served the entire Civil War and risked all he had for his country. Look at his memorial now. Will Deschenes Oval turn into Foster Square when Lucy is my age?

* Picnic Area
* Monument
* Green Space


The Soldiers and Sailors Monument

The last park on my list contains my favorite city monument. Nashua does not have many, and it's fitting that on the Parks and Recreation list this one is simply called "The Monument." It is the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, erected in 1889 in honor of the 1,355 soldiers and sailors from New Hampshire who served in the Civil War. It stands in Abbott Square at the top of Library Hill. If you ever have the opportunity to go up Main Street early in the morning, when the streets are devoid of traffic, you will be able to see just how impressive The Monument is.

It's 52 feet, 8 inches high, and at the top is the 9-foot statue of Victory, looking beautiful and calm. But to really appreciate The Monument, you have to walk all around it to see all of its detail. Each side of The Monument has its own bas-relief, meaning portions of the sculpture stick out slightly beyond the main structure. There are quotations about union. I am especially fond of the one by George Washington.

This monument cost $12,000, which is the equivalent of close to $300,000 today. Thousands of people came to see the laying of the cornerstone, in May of 1889, five months before the statue was erected. Veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic proceeded into the city and up to the Hollis Street graveyard to lay garlands of flowers on the graves of the Civil War dead. There were many speeches. I was amazed by the detailed account of the laying of the cornerstone and the contents of the casket deposited with it. There were 31 items in this casket, including 1889 coins, the signatures of the president and vice-president of the United States, and copies of the four Nashua newspapers - The Nashua Daily Gazette, The Nashua Daily Telegraph, The Nashua Weekly Gazette and The Nashua Weekly Telegraph. You can read all this in "An Account of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument," which is available online at the Library of Congress and online.

It is a glorious monument - a fitting place for the electioneering and the occasional protests that take place there. Seeing it nearly every day reminds me of one of the most important functions of city parks: to take us outside and tangibly connect us to our city, past and present.

* Monument

* Green Space

Fireman's Bell

The Firemen's Bell, at the intersection of Manchester and Concord streets, is dedicated to the firefighters who have died in the line of duty, starting with Robert Poff, who was crushed by firefighting equipment while answering a call in Crown Hill in 1895. He was 32.

I like the Fireman's Bell, because it is simple and straightforward and a lovely use of a small green. The memorial is called "The Last Alarm." It looks nice in all seasons and reminds us that city workers risk their lives while serving Nashua.

* Monument

* Green Space



Parks in Ward 4

Ash Street Skateboard Park | City Hall Park | Court Street Park | June Caron Park

Los Amigos Park | Mine Falls | Nashua Heritage Rail Trail | Veterans Memorial Park



Ash Street Skateboard Park

The Ash Street Skateboard Park is across from the Police Athletic League, and I watched a skateboarder attempt a flip while I was there. You can tell that this park gets heavily used.

* Skateboard Park

City Hall Park

If you've visited City Hall, or driven past it, you have seen City Hall Park, which includes the brick patio with the memorial to John F. Kennedy out front. It's basically a bronze bust of JFK on a plinth. The bust commemorates Kennedy and his first campaign stop during his successful presidential run in 1960. The bust was stolen by vandals in 1996, but was later recovered and restored to the top of the pedestal.

Besides the memorial, there are a couple of raised flower beds and a small greenway on the side of City Hall that is used to walk from the parking lot behind City Hall to Main Street. There are benches, which are usually full.

* JFK Monument

* Green Space


Court Street Park

14 Court St. is the space between the library and the Janice B. Streeter Theater. It's a small open space with a fountain. There's the reading girl statue (one of my daughter's favorites), and there's a new and lovely garden near the river, on your way to the parking lot from the library. I know that the library uses this space for concerts, and I'm in favor of that, but I think this particular space is ripe for improvement. I would love to see 14 Court St. as a sculpture garden, with more green in the middle, and creative seating (seating for all seasons) around its perimeter.

* Benches
* Green Space
* Statue
* Fountain




June Caron Park

I have not yet visited June Caron Park - I'll be exploring it in my final piece.


Los Amigos Park

I wondered how old Los Amigos Park is, because I don't remember it being there, and I couldn't find out anything about it.

Los Amigos is a nice-sized neighborhood park. There's a climbing play structure, a small skateboard ramp and painted foursquare and hopscotch courts. There are benches and about five parking spaces out front, and the kids in the neighborhood were clearly eyeballing me while I was checking out the park. Their parents had clearly taught them not to talk to strangers.

* Playground
* Skateboard Ramp
* Foursquare/Hopscotch courts

Mine Falls

Mine Falls is the 325-acre emerald in the middle of Nashua. If you do not know it, you should go over and introduce yourself. I have been to the park a few times over the course of this series, and I know that getting to know this park is going to take me the rest of my life, which is fine. Because it is big. (Central Park in New York City is 843 acres, by comparison.)

What I love about Mine Falls is that it has everything: you can walk, you can bike, you can run, you can rollerblade, you can boat, you can fish. It's scenic New England at its best - there are wonderful places just to stop and look at the world around you, and one of these places is at the Ward 1 entrance, just off Coliseum Avenue. There are at least six entrances with parking lots. The best way to find the one most convenient is to use the official Mine Falls Trail Map, which can be found at the city of Nashua's Web site.

Every time I have been to Mine Falls, I have been struck by two things: its beauty and its democracy. This is truly a park for everyone. I have seen entire families biking; I have seen elderly women walking little dogs; I have seen teenagers race by. Cross-country teams train there. Everyone loves this park and seems to appreciate it for the treasure it is.

I'm so glad we have it.

I wonder if anyone who was not there during the time it was created (like me) can understand what kind of Herculean effort went into creating Mine Falls. As I was researching this article, reading The Telegraph's archives, I could imagine some of the effort, by reading between the lines. Years of committee meetings. Thousands and thousands of hours of unpaid effort by people on the local conservation commissions. Of course, Mine Falls was assisted by the passage of the Clean Water Act, but I know something about making a project of this scope happen - it may take a village to raise a child, but to create a park for that child to play in? The federal government is not enough. This was a cooperative venture that literally took years. The land was acquired in the 1940s. The park was dedicated in 1978.

To all those people who sat on those committees, and gave up time with their families and friends, and slogged through paperwork and negotiations, to create Mine Falls Park, I want to say a very public "thank you." What you did for Nashua is miraculous and appreciated every day.

* Softball Field - Lights
* Boat Launch
* Trails
* Soccer Fields - Lights
* Conservation Area
* City Park
* Historical Site
* Green Spaces

Nashua Heritage Rail Trail

The Nashua Heritage Rail Trail was designated part of the New Hampshire Heritage Trail System, which extends 130 miles along the Merrimack River from Massachusetts to Canada. Locally, it is a bike path that extends from City Hall to Simon Street.

The Ward 4 Rail Trail is pleasant and green, and shows the effects of the rain in its incredible growth. There were lots of folks biking the path when I was there, and they were clearly enjoying the day and their ride.

* Trail
* Green Space

Vietnam Veterans' Memorial Park

If you don't know where this park is, it's immediately before Ledge Street School, and other than Greeley Park, it was the park most heavily used while I visited.
I enjoyed visiting this park. It's a smart use of space: There's a small baseball diamond, obviously designed for use by younger children, a basketball court and two large baseball diamonds, one of which was being used by an amateur team. All of these playing areas are linked by a nice walking path, which was well-used. There were people walking dogs, teens talking as they wandered the paths and people waiting to meet friends. There are little pocket gardens around the memorials. The path meanders around and through the park, so there's a nice feeling of connectedness between the spaces.

* Baseball Diamond
* Softball Diamond
* T-Ball Diamond
* Basketball Court
* Lights
* Green Space
* Trails
* Vietnam Veterans' Memorial


Parks in Ward 5

Conway Arena | Horrigan Park | Main Dunstable Fields | Southwest Park | Stellos Stadium


Conway Arena

If the number of people at Conway Arena on a hot August day is any indication of the popularity of ice skating in Nashua, I would have to say this is an incredibly hot sport! There were folks everywhere, dropping kids off, picking them up. Everyone seemed happy.

I'm not a skater, even though I grew up in New England, but I know that hockey isn't a sport - it's a religion. It seems as if Nashua has found an appropriate temple to worship in.

* Ice Rink



Horrigan Park

Even though Ward 5 has five parks, I found a green space on my Nashua city map that was noted as a park: Horrigan Park. I couldn't get there.

Horrigan Park is basically an 11-acre parcel along the Nashua River on the Nashua/Hollis line. It isn't accessible right now, unless you have a boat.

If you go to where it's located off Skyline Drive, you'll see a sign saying "No trespassing, private property," which I respected. Getting as close as I could, I saw what looked like a boat access on an adjacent street.

Horrigan Park isn't quite a park yet. But I understand that it's an important part of the Nashua River Watershed Association's plan to protect the Nashua River greenway. And I think we should all start visualizing a connected series of walks and trails - on land, on water and next to water - linking the parks in our city.

They said Mine Falls Park would never happen. It took a long time to make it happen. I don't see any reason why the Nashua Greenway Trail (this is what I'm calling it) shouldn't happen, either.

* Green Space

 

Main Dunstable Fields

If your child plays soccer - and even if your child doesn't - you know where the Main Dunstable soccer fields are. They're on the left heading back into Nashua, and there always seems to be something going on at that field. When I went by to take photos, soccer camp was in progress, and the kids were doing drills.

* Soccer Fields


Southwest Park - Yudicky Farm and Lovewell Pond

Southwest Park makes up the southwest corner of Nashua. It's a big park - 245 acres big.

Southwest Park and Yudicky Farm are on Main Dunstable Road. I'm quite familiar with this area, because I used to work on Spit Brook Road, and when social events after work beckoned me to the west, I would go out Middle Dunstable Road to Ridge Road and out to Old Ridge Road, which is now closed to car traffic.

Old Ridge Road goes right past Lovewell Pond, which I can assure you is a breathtaking sight in the fall. It's also part of the Yudicky Farm Park.

This is an interesting park, because the most visible part of it is the playing fields, which are quite a small part of the entire shebang. There are hiking and biking trails galore, and there's a set of trails specifically for mountain bikes called the Barbwire Trails.

The New England Mountain Bike Association cut the first part of that trail in June 2005. From what I could tell by the number of cars parked with bike carriers on them, this is a popular trail.

I was at Southwest Park on a weekday morning, and there were men playing softball. I'm assume it was softball, because I've recently learned there are many differences between a softball diamond and a baseball diamond. Most obvious is that only baseball uses a raised pitcher's mound.

The men - whatever they were playing - were clearly having a great time, as were the assorted hikers and bikers coming in and out of the woods.

There were at least nine trails that I counted, and I would advise you to print out a copy of the trail map if you're going to Yudicky Farm.

Yudicky Farm is an important green resource in Nashua, and as such, its development is included in the Conservation and Preservation Element of the Nashua Master Plan. The suggestions made for Yudicky Farm are:

* Conduct a comprehensive natural resource and wildlife inventory to document the ecosystems and plant and animal species in the park. Such an inventory would provide baseline data on the park's natural features and biodiversity, which could be used as a yardstick in measuring potential adverse impacts of certain human activities in the park.

* Once the natural resource and wildlife inventory is completed, a management plan for the park should be developed. The management plan should seek to balance human use of the park with its value as a wildlife habitat.

* The city should hire a forestry consultant to determine whether thinning certain forest stands in Yudicky Farm, Southwest Park and surroundings would improve wildlife habitat, recreational use and the appearance of those areas. Yudicky Farm contains many young, dense white pine stands. The value of these stands for wildlife habitat and recreation may be improved by selective thinning.

* The city should conduct a natural resource/wildlife inventory and develop a management plan for the newly acquired land surrounding Lovewell's Pond. The pond is perhaps Nashua's most unique natural area. If human use of this area is to increase, careful management is necessary.

* The city should explore the feasibility of an extensive trail system, which would connect the trails in Yudicky Farm to the recently acquired parcels in its vicinity. If such a trail system appears feasible, the city should seek to implement it in the near future.

Of all these suggestions, I feel that's the one that would benefit city residents the most. There needs to be a Master Plan for the parks and trails in this city. It would be lovely to be able to get easily from trail to trail, and if there's anything this story has taught me, it's that I need a bike.

* Softball Diamond
* Bicycle Trails - Barbwire Trails
* Hicking Trails
* Green Space
* Pond



Stellos Stadium

Stellos Stadium is a football field. A big football field. It's located practically next to Conway Arena. The field at Stellos Stadium is used by Nashua's three high school teams, and as I was there in the summer, the only thing I wondered about was the parking. There was tons of parking available the day I visited, but I couldn't help but wonder if there's enough during football season.

* High School Fields
* Football
* Soccer
* Field Hockey
* Lacrosse



Parks in Ward 6

Erion Park | Fields Grove | Labine Park | Rotary Common | Rotary Pool | Sandy Pond




Erion Park

Erion Park is one of the small neighborhood parks that I still find so surprising. This one's got a nice, enclosed play area, a small ball field and basketball courts. A mother with a stroller was heading into the play area as I arrived. The child was happily climbing as I left.

* Baseball Field
* Basketball Courts
* Playground


Fields Grove

I love the park at Fields Grove. I've known about it since the time I was searching for a house, before I bought The Little Cottage on the Souhegan. It was December, and it had been a long search. I was looking at every house in the Golden Triangle (Nashua, Hudson, Merrimack) that cost less than $100,000 in 1985, and I went to take a look at a house on Fifield Street in Nashua, which is almost directly across Main Street from Field Street. But I got confused and turned onto Field Street instead. It was daylight still, and I went down the street expecting to find a house for sale. Instead, I was greeted by a scene that could have been on a postcard labeled "New England Winter." The little park was covered in snow, and ice was forming at the edge of Salmon Brook. The water tumbled beneath the stone bridge. A solitary duck floated across the water. I was enchanted.

I often went to Fields Grove when I needed to be alone in a natural space. (I still do.) After we moved to Nashua, during times when I was working full-time and my husband was the stay-at-home parent, he would pack a picnic and I would meet him and Lucy for lunch. We would sit on a blanket on the little sandy beach and watch the birds and take Lucy to the play area.

Everybody who grew up in Nashua has a Fields Grove story, most of which include illicit swimming and finding things such as washing machines and carts from the old Bradlees in the water. According to my friend Ruth Morgan, Fields Grove is a much nicer park now than it was when she was a child. When I stopped by to take photographs of the park for this article, there were four people picking up trash at the park, tidying it up for the day.

* Tennis Courts
* Basketball Courts
* Playground
* Pond
* Green Space



Labine Park and Rotary Pool

The last two recreation areas are in the same place: Rotary Pool and Labine Park are on Cleveland Street, near Fairgounds Middle School. I was surprised by the number of children waiting to get into the pool at 9 o'clock in the morning. I had not been to Labine Park before, and it was a surprise to find a pool on one side of the street and such a large playing field on the other. It's great to have city amenities so close to one another. Labine Park has something for everyone: softball, tennis courts (one reserved for street hockey) and even an area that can be flooded for ice hockey. Kids must love to live within walking distance of Cleveland Street.

Labine Park

* Tennis Courts
* Softball Fields
* Lights
* Winter Skating

Rotary Pool

* Swimming Pool
* Wading Pool


Rotary Common

Across from Simoneau Plaza you will find one of Nashua's newest parks: Rotary Common, which includes the Reflection Garden and the Labyrinth.

This park is located on Salmon Brook, which is fitting because the goal was to create a city park that celebrates Nashua's industrial history and the beauty of Salmon Brook. Salmon Brook played an important role in Nashua's industry, because it was used to generate power. A third goal for the park was to welcome people to downtown Nashua and link neighborhoods to downtown destinations.

This park was born in 1998, when the New Hampshire Department of Transportation purchased the site as mitigation for impact to wetlands in the F.E. Everett Turnpike expansion. Located on the former site of the International Paper Box Machine Company, the park was created in partnership with the Rotary Club of Nashua, which donated $100,000 to the project. Phase 1, which was finished in 2008, was assisted in its completion by neighbors Adult Learning Center and Elm Street Middle School.

What I find interesting - and quite unexpected - is that this park, a park whose stated purpose is to celebrate the city's industrial history, includes a labyrinth. A labyrinth is considered to be a spiritual tool, a metaphor for life's journey and for taking a spiritual journey inside yourself. The labyrinth was privately funded and constructed and given as a gift to the people of Nashua. A wonderful gift, in my opinion.

I spent a morning wandering around the space, enjoying the labyrinth and the sculptures. I like the idea of an open green space in downtown Nashua, and I like it truly being an open space: The city's portable stage can be moved around the space, depending on what is needed.

And I am anticipating Phase Two, which is south of Salmon Brook. There's a proposal for a Holocaust Memorial, and there will be a meadow. And who knows? Maybe another city group will take the opportunity to propose something as lovely as the labyrinth. These kinds of private/public partnerships give an added dimension to park spaces. I think all of the sculptures in Nashua's city parks makes for much more enjoyable green space.

* Labyrinth
* Sculptures
* Green Space


Sandy Pond

Sandy Pond is smack in the middle of a square formed by Ross Street, Lake Street and National Street, with the fourth side of the square formed by the backside of Arel Manor, the Nashua elderly housing complex on Pine Street. It's named Sandy Pond because of the big pond that's the central feature of the park. It's a surprise, because unless you already know that it's there, you don't expect to find a big pond behind a major street in our city.

I stumbled across it on one of those days when Lucy really needed a nap after we had gone out to lunch with friends. Fortunately, she fell asleep in the car. I did not want to wake her up, so I drove around downtown. I was delighted to discover Sandy Pond Park. I stayed in the car until Lucy woke up, and then I got to say, "Look! Look at the ducks. Let's go feed them." (This was long before there was a city ordinance against feeding waterfowl at city parks - Lucy is 10 now.) We went out and explored.

Sandy Pond Park became one of my regular haunts when Lucy was still toddling. We spent many happy hours there watching the fish from the floating dock, watching the geese and ducks on the pond, and interacting with the neighborhood kids.

It's a nice park. And it's designed around an intelligent concept - that a park located behind elderly housing should have something nice for visiting grandchildren. Nick Caggiano, superintendent of Nashua's Park and Recreation Department, told me that was taken into consideration when Sandy Pond was created. Both visiting and neighborhood children would need a fun, outside place to visit. Well, the city created one. There's a splash pad, a seesaw, swings, two slides and a climbing apparatus that reminds me of a geodesic dome. Every time we have been there (except during the winter), someone has been fishing. And the kids in the neighborhood have been helpful, sharing times when the splash pad opens, when the fish bite best and when the ice cream truck comes.

* Fishing
* Playground
* Splash Pad
* Dock


Parks in Ward 7

Belvedere Playground | David Deane Skateboard Park | Greenwich Commons | Joyce Park Sanctuary

Lyons Park | Massachusetts Dr. Park | Sullivan Park | Sunset Heights Park | Roussel/Gardner Park


Belvedere Playground

Belvedere is a tiny park (not so tiny as some of the parks I've explored in this series - it's about a third of an acre) that is a small green play place in a mostly commercial neighborhood. Every time I've gone past this park I've seen children in it, usually accompanied by mothers with strollers.

* Playground
* Green Space




Greenwich Commons

There's nothing particularly fancy about Greenwich Commons, but it reminded me of a space I used to ride my bike in as a child. It looked like the perfect place to set up a bike course, the way we did, with tin cans and ramps.

* Playground
* Green Space




Joyce Park Sanctuary

I could not find the entrance to the Joyce Park Sanctuary on Spaulding Avenue. I bet Parks and Rec that I could, so I believe I owe Nick Caggiano a beer.

* Wildlife Sanctuary
* Green Space




Lyons Park/Flynn Park

The first park that I toured was Lyons Park, soon to be renamed Flynn Park, after Dick Flynn, the late Ward 7 alderman. I think that would be a fitting tribute to him. By all accounts, Dick Flynn was a wonderful father, great baseball coach and the "numbers guy" for the Board of Aldermen. I bet Flynn would say that Lyons Park is good value for the city's money. I visited the Marshall Street park just after a rain storm, and the fields were lush, wet and green.

Since it just finished pouring, I had the park to myself. I sat on the small set of bleachers on one end of the field and surveyed the park from my perch. The old oaks provide great shade and the bleachers present a great vantage point for game viewing. There are two baseball diamonds, a play structure for younger children and what seemed to be a clay court, complete with painted hopscotch, shuffleboard and foursquare courts.

Lyons Park is a well-thought out space. Right next to the small play structure is a bench for parents to sit on and watch their children. The area is fenced on the sides that face danger (traffic) and open to the grassy slope that a toddler would love to play on. As a parent, I could see just where Bill and I would have been deployed in that park to keep Lucy from going where she should not go. The land is used so intelligently, and I love being in a park surrounded by houses.


* Softball Field
* Baseball Field
* Playground
* Foursquare/Hopscotch
* Shuffleboard
* Sledding
* Ice Skating




Massachusetts Drive Park

Massachusetts Drive is a small, leaf-surrounded park that has a basketball court. No one was playing, but I think it's great to have a basketball court in your own neighborhood.


* Basketball Court



* Playground
* Greenspace



Sullivan Park

Sullivan Park is a real, old-fashioned park. Benches beneath mature shade trees. A playing area for the kids, including a domed climbing structure. Lots of grass. The rain had stopped by the time I got to Sullivan Park, and a young man was loping across it, skateboard under his arm.


* Playground
* Basketball Court
* Lights
* Green Space




Sunset Heights Park

The park at Sunset Heights is adjacent to the school's playground and the day I toured it, I had junior reporters Lucy Broyles and Jordan Parker assisting. They had to be plied away with food and promises of a return. It's a great place to take your kids.

The play area at the school, which was burned by vandals a few years ago, has all new equipment that has turned it into fun city for anyone younger than 12, with climbing apparatuses, a couple of hopping structures, and tire swings.

The park includes tennis courts, basketball courts, swings and baseball fields. The only thing that was odd was that the swings were so high that even I could not get up into them, which amused Lucy and Jordan.

This park is well-used - every time I've been there (and it's about a half dozen times, now that Lucy knows where it is), there've been families visiting.


* Playground
* Basketball Court
* Tennis Court
* Baseball Field
* Softball Field




Roussel/Gardner Park

Gardner and Roussel parks form a sort of green belt around Dr. Crisp. I can't really tell if this is one park, or two - on the Parks and Recreation site, it's listed as Roussel/Gardner Park even though it has two separate signs.

The sign for Gardner Park is in front of the school, to the left, as you are facing Dr. Crisp, with a brick building with a sign for the Northern Ballet Theatre. Roussel is in the back of the school, adjacent to the school playground, and is a great-looking park. It was being groomed while I was there - getting spiffed up for the first day of school, perhaps.

With its big playing fields (they play soccer, softball and T-ball at this facility) and playground newly washed from the recent rain, it looked clean and fresh and ready to enjoy.


* Soccer
* Softball Field
* T-Ball Field
* Playground
* Baseball Field



Parks in Ward 8

Roby Park


Roby Park

Roby Park was dedicated Sept. 27, 1984. It was one of the last official acts of Mayor Maurice Arel before his resignation became effective. He commented before the formal dedication ceremony that the creation of "the park was largely due to the work" of then-Alderman-at-Large Carl Andrade, who worked out a deal with real estate developer Jack Kopka who was building a condominium complex near the site. This deal involved a donation of 60 acres given to the city to become a park. At the dedication, there was hope that the park would be ready in a year or two.

So the 60 acres became a park.

I remembered it all through a hazy gaze of nostalgia, until I started reading the newspaper archives. The newspaper archives mentioned phrases I had not heard in years - Hall's Corner, for one.

I had forgotten about Hall's Corner. There were plans at one time for the Tamposi Corp. to develop the area across from Roby Park and put 3,400 housing units in that area, along with some other commercial development. To do that, they needed to get an exemption to some wetlands protection legislation that had been passed before the development was built. This exemption was called the Hall's Corner Exemption. To make a very long story short, the aldermen granted the exemption by resolution, over opposition from Mayor Jim Donchess. The residents of the city repealed it in a special election.

Twenty-seven years later, there is no Hall's Corner. But Roby Park has developed into a fabulous park. What I like so much about Roby Park is that it's not cookie-cutter. The park follows the contours of the land - one of the amenities of the park is the terrific sledding - that would not exist if the architect merely had raised all the land up to the level of Spit Brook Road and flattened it out.

And that's just one of its many features.

What's so great about Roby Park is that there's something for everyone. There are two softball fields, and teams were playing a tournament there on one of the Saturdays Lucy and I visited.

It's one of the parks that Lucy regularly requests trips to, partly because the play structure has a built in zipline, which is great fun for kids of all ages. There's also a slide made of little rolling bars, which feels quite odd when you slide down it. (I can attest to this personally.)

The fenced-in play area is a great place to take children.

There's a play structure for older children and one for the little ones, as well, which makes it easy to keep the smaller children from getting hurt. There are two sets of swings, too. There is a covered structure, which you can sit under to get out of the sun. And picnic tables, of course.

It is a well-used park. Every time I have been to the park, there are families using the facilities, and I have been there in all seasons.

There's a lot to do at Roby Park - there are fields galore, there's an outdoor skating structure for use when the weather is cold, the sledding is terrific, and there's even a 2-mile trail that was mapped out as a special project by the students at Pennichuck Middle School.

Ward 8 has only one park. But in this case, one may be enough.



* Soccer
* Softball Field
* Lights
* Playground




* Sledding
* Skating
* T-Ball Field
* Trails
* Green Space
* Covered Picnic Area



Parks in Ward 9

Kirkpatrick Park | Shady Lane Park | St. Andrew's Park



Kirkpatrick Park

Kirkpatrick Park is a long park: There's a baseball diamond, tennis courts, basketball courts and a huge grassy space between the diamond and the courts.

David Drescher Field, the baseball field at Kirkpatrick Park, was having its baseball diamond either resodded or edged the day I was there. It looked as if the grass had just been cut with a knife. The edges of the sod were high and sharp, and clearly this was the first step in some serious field grooming. The sand was a couple of inches lower than the sod.

Drescher Field was named in 2010 after Dave Drescher, a man who coached Nashua South Cal Ripken baseball for 30 years. It's a nice diamond, and the park would be a great place to watch a game: There's plenty of parking, and a grassy space between Drescher Field and the tennis courts on the other end hosts a play area for small children.


* Baseball Field
* Tennis Courts
* Lights
* Basketball Courts
* Green Space




Shady Lane Park

Shady Lane Park is a large expanse of green lushness directly in front of New Searles School. It's a big park, and it seems to be in transition from baseball season to soccer season. The morning I took pictures was the first day of school in Nashua, and the fields had just been washed clean by Hurricane Irene. I saw a lot of Parks and Recreation Department vehicles while I was out taking pictures of parks; it was clear that they were checking for storm damage.

Shady Lane has a baseball diamond, but soccer goals stood at the ready. The grass smelled so delicious that I wanted to roll down the hill into the Irene-created puddles in the grass. I cannot tell you how big Shady Lane Park is because I am terrible at estimating distances, but it's a big field. How wonderful it must be for the children at New Searles School to have such a huge place to play in front of the school. I know that New Searles has its own play space, but there's nothing like a large expanse of field for running off excess schoolchild energy.

Shady Lane is clearly a great haunt for walkers. I lost count of the number of people taking what was clearly their morning constitutional on the street. There were couples and singles and lots of people moving to their iPods. Everybody was enjoying the gorgeous weather and the sound of the kids playing at New Searles School.


* Softball Field
* Soccer
* Green Space



St. Andrew's Park

St. Andrew's Park is on Harris Road, across from Bramble Drive.

I have driven by St. Andrew's many times and never noticed that next to its baseball field is a play area tucked into the pines. It's not particularly noticeable from the street. When you drive into the parking lot, you immediately notice the Matt Dube baseball field and field house, which actually had sandbags around one end of it. The field house is named in honor of Matt Dube, a 10-year-old Nashua boy who died after a heroic eight year battle with leukemia. He was loved by many, and the field named for him is well-maintained.

The little play area beside it made me feel like I was back in summer camp. There was a long metal slide covered with rapidly evaporating dewdrops, a metal climbing structure shaped like an old-fashioned Jell-O mold and swings, all slipped between the trees. The scent of pine was everywhere. I wish I had known about this park when Lucy was smaller.

The only thing that puzzled me about this park was its name: why is it St. Andrew's Park? Is it the site of a former church? I'm sure a good citizen of Nashua will enlighten me.


* Baseball Field
* Playground